IMSA Spotlight: Pipo Derani
Driver: No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi
It was recently announced that you will be back with Tequila Patron ESM for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season next year. How happy are you to have your 2018 plans ironed out this early?
“It’s great when you can know this early what your plans are for the next season. It gives us the opportunity to continue to build on our great relationship and to start polishing even more.
“We will use the end of this championship already in preparation for next season and this will make us even stronger to fight for the 2018 WeatherTech Championship. I am definitely really happy!”
The announcement comes after delivering the first win for the Nissan Onroak DPi at Road America. How big of a win was that for you and the team?
“It was a huge win. We were already counting down the races left in the championship and thinking we could have gotten to the end of the season without a win.
“It gives the whole team a lot of confidence to continue to work hard. We’ve had such a difficult start and so much work and engine changes that a victory like that revitalizes everyone inside the team!”
How far has the car come in terms of development since the first race at Daytona?
“We are constantly working to make our car more reliable. That has been the main focus since the beginning of the year.
“We haven’t had the luxury to not think about that, and we will continue to work on that direction. I think Road America was a good step in that direction.”
What do you think about the level of competition expected in the Prototype class next year with some big-name teams set to join the championship?
“I think the level is already extremely high. When you look at the operation of teams like WTR and AXR you know that if you win on top of them it means something good.
“For sure the addition of two other great teams will make it even stronger, but once Penske and Joest arrive they will be surprised with the level of competition the championship already has.”
What are your hobbies away from the race track?
“I love playing squash but lately I haven’t had time for it. I’m starting to go back cycling and convincing my wife to start. If it becomes a hobby for her as well, it will make my life a lot easier!”